Treating Flu With Antiviral Medicines: Relenza & Tamiflu
Tamiflu is a prescription medication used to treat influenza, or flu, virus. It can shorten the duration of the flu if taken as soon as symptoms start.
Who Can Take It
Tamiflu is approved for adults and children over 2 weeks of age.
Who Should Not Take Tamiflu
- Children under 2 weeks old *
- Those who are allergic to oseltamivir phosphate, the main ingredient, or any other ingredients in Tamiflu
* On April 27, 2009, the CDC approved the use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) in children under 12 months old and pregnant women who have confirmed cases of H1N1 swine flu. These two groups are at high risk for complications from influenza and it is believed that the benefits outweigh the risks in this situation.Consult your healthcare provider if you have kidney disease, heart disease, respiratory disease or any other serious health condition.
When to Take Tamiflu
You may take Tamiflu to treat the flu or, in some cases, to prevent the flu. It is most effective if started within 48 hours of the onset of your flu symptoms.If someone in your family has the flu, your health care provider may prescribe Tamiflu to help keep you from getting it. It is most often used in this way for people who are at high risk for complications from the flu or if there is someone in the home that is unable to get a flu vaccine.Tamiflu is also used sometimes to protect people from influenza when there are severe outbreaks in communities.
Tamiflu is a prescription medicine so you can only get it after seeing a health care provider. It is not available over the counter without a prescription.If taken to treat the flu, Tamiflu will usually be prescribed to be taken twice daily for five days. There is a liquid formulation available for young children and people that aren’t able to swallow pills. The amount of liquid solution will vary based on weight.If used to prevent the flu when someone in your home has it, Tamiflu is usually taken once a day for 10 days. Tamiflu may be taken for up to 6 weeks in the case of an outbreak of influenza in the community.Be sure to take all of the prescribed medication, even if you feel better.
Tamiflu may cause mild to moderate nausea and vomiting. Taking the medication with food or milk may decrease these symptoms.Less common side effects include bronchitis, difficulty sleeping, and dizziness.If you have an allergic reaction to Tamiflu, including a severe rash, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor or seek medical attention right away.
A Word From Verywell
Tamiflu is the most popular antiviral medication prescribed in the United States to treat and prevent the flu, but it is not the only option. It has drawbacks because it can cause unpleasant side effects and may be expensive, depending on your insurance coverage. However, it can shorten the duration of your symptoms and help you get better faster. If you aren’t sure whether or not it is right for you, discuss the pros and cons with your health care provider to make an educated decision about your health.